Days After New Zealand Eruption, Loved Ones Still Wait for News

Only six deaths from the White Island disaster have been officially confirmed, but that number is almost sure to rise.

A makeshift memorial for victims of the White Island eruption in Tauranga, New Zealand, on Tuesday.
A makeshift memorial for victims of the White Island eruption in Tauranga, New Zealand, on Tuesday.Credit...John Boren/Getty Images

About 47 people were visiting White Island, an active volcano in New Zealand, when it erupted on Monday. Days later, many of their loved ones are still searching for information about them.

Six deaths have been officially confirmed, and dozens of victims have been hospitalized. On Wednesday, the New Zealand police released a list, which they said was incomplete, of nine missing people, of whom seven were from Australia and two from New Zealand. Family members of four people on the list confirmed that they were dead.

The toll was almost sure to rise. “We can never say 100 percent, but I would strongly suggest that there is no one who has survived on the island,” John Tims, the deputy commissioner of the New Zealand Police, said on Tuesday.

Many of the hospitalized people had suffered severe burns, and the police said Tuesday that they were still trying to identify both the dead and the injured. Rescuers could not go to the island on Wednesday to retrieve victims’ bodies for fear that the volcano might erupt again.

Mr. Tims said the 47 people, some of whom had gone to White Island on an excursion from a cruise ship, came from seven countries: 24 from Australia, nine from the United States, five from New Zealand, four from Germany, two from Britain, two from China and one from Malaysia.

Here’s what we know so far about those who were there.

The New Zealand police told family members that Julie Richards, 47, and her daughter Jessica Richards, 20, of Brisbane, Australia, were among the dead, according to John Mickel, a family friend.

Jessica was a student at the University of Queensland and an aspiring Australian rules football player, Mr. Mickel said. At a recent family gathering to celebrate the 85th birthday of Julie Richards’s mother, the pair discussed how excited they were about the cruise that would take them to White Island.

“If there was an adventure that offered itself, then they would be the ones to do it,” he told reporters.

In the minutes before the volcano erupted, Hayden Marshall-Inman, from Whakatane, New Zealand, was most likely guiding visitors carefully toward its crater, as he had done dozens of times before.

Friends and relatives said on Tuesday that Mr. Marshall-Inman, a guide and boat captain at White Island Tours, was among the dead. The police declared him officially missing on Wednesday. His brother, Mark Inman, wrote on Facebook that he had died “doing the one thing he loved.”

Mr. Marshall-Inman, 40, was well loved by friends and colleagues, who described him as a gregarious, experienced and risk-averse guide.

“He would never enter that island or take people if he didn’t feel it was safe,” said Dawn Cobb, a close friend.

“There wasn’t a bad bone in that man’s body,” she added, describing him as “a simple New Zealand guy” who rarely wore shoes, traveled only with carry-on luggage and inspired the hundreds of international tourists who had participated in his tours.

Mr. Marshall-Inman grew up in Ohope, a beach town on New Zealand’s northeast coast. He worked as a tour guide for several years before becoming a captain with White Island Tours, which is thought to have been guiding many visitors around the volcano on Monday.

“A lot of the locals, they’ll be hurting,” said Stefen Leach, the manager of Ohope Chartered, a sports and recreation club where Mr. Marshall-Inman had previously worked. “It’s a tragedy.”

Family members of Gavin Dallow, 53, said the New Zealand police had notified them of his death. Zoe Hosking, 15, his stepdaughter, is also presumed to have been killed, the family said.

“Gavin was a wonderful son and brother,” the family said in a statement. “We’ll miss him at the cricket and we’ll miss him at the football.”

Lisa Dallow, 48, Ms. Hosking’s mother and Mr. Dallow’s wife, was recovering in a hospital with burns to 60 percent of her body, said Kym Loechel, a cousin of Mr. Dallow.

“We don’t know if it’s survivable or not,” he said in an interview.

Mr. Loechel said Mr. Dallow loved to travel, but that he was conservative and “the last person I would have expected to be on White Island.” He described Mr. Dallow as dedicated to his local church and a linesman at the Australian Open tennis tournament.

He was “a very caring, very wonderful, happy bloke,” he said. Ms. Hosking was “very outgoing” and loved at her school, he said.

The New Zealand police said Tipene Maangi, 24, was missing as of Wednesday afternoon. A guide at White Island Tours, he had been “really enjoying” his job, Anihera Paku, a cousin of Mr. Maangi, told Newshub.

Ms. Paku said Mr. Maangi had not been scheduled to work on Monday but was called in.

“He’s a really good people person, sociable, you could be having a really bad day and here comes Tipene and his cheeky remarks, just to brighten your day,” she said. “He’s just the laugh of the crowd.”

Richard Elzer and Karla Matthews, both 32, were high school sweethearts who went to the island on the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Mr. Elzer’s father, Peter Elzer, said they had not been heard from since Monday and were “presumed to be deceased.”

He said the couple was traveling with friends, who had provided him with more information than the authorities had. “We are frustrated by the lack of information provided to us from the Australian authorities up until now,” he told ABC.

Matthew and Lauren Urey, of Richmond, Va., were on their honeymoon after getting married in October. Both survived the eruption but were sent to the hospital with extensive burns.

“This isn’t a joke; the volcano actually erupted while we were on the island,” Mr. Urey said in a voice mail message to his mother, obtained by Inside Edition. “Lauren and I got pretty badly burned, so we’re at the hospital in New Zealand. My hands are burned so I can’t use my phone.”

His mother, Janet Urey, told Inside Edition that her son had been “severely burned” on his arms, legs and back.

Lauren Urey’s mother, Barbara Barham, told The Washington Post that Lauren had excitedly called her on Monday after their cruise ship had docked in nearby Tauranga.

“My husband was joking around and said, ‘I hope it’s not a live volcano,’” she said.

A family of four Australians who were on vacation in New Zealand when the volcano erupted are still unaccounted for, according to the private boys’ school in Sydney that the children attend.

Martin and Barbara Hollander, together with their two sons, Berend, 16, and Matthew, 13, were aboard the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, and are believed to have been on White Island at the time of the eruption, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“It is with a heavy heart that I can confirm that a Knox family is currently unaccounted for,” Scott James, the headmaster of Knox Grammar School, wrote in a letter sent to parents on Monday.

According to information provided by the school, both boys are actively involved in campus life, participating in baseball, squash and debating, and are well liked by their peers.